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Retired, active scientists form Wisconsin Green Fire, responding to 'threat' to science from state governmentSubmitted: 04/21/2017
Story By Ben Meyer

Retired, active scientists form Wisconsin Green Fire, responding to 'threat' to science from state government
RHINELANDER - Two years ago, Gov. Scott Walker moved to cut 18 positions from the DNR's scientific research staff.

Last December, the DNR removed language about human causes of climate change from its website.

A state group, which will launch Saturday, calls moves like those a "threat" to science.


Former DNR employee Bob Martini, who lives in Rhinelander, is on the board of Wisconsin Green Fire. The former water resources scientist said DNR employees are under a gag order.

"I've never seen such a group of demoralized people," Martini said. "They feel that they can't use their scientific expertise to do what they were hired to do."

Green Fire is a group of about 70 retired and active scientists from organizations including the DNR and the UW System. Martini said Green Fire experts will make themselves available to the Legislature, local officials, and the media.

"We hope to try to fill the gap that was created when the DNR scientists could no longer speak," he said. "They can't even talk to the press, even if they're a world expert on a subject."

Martini says the group includes experts in almost every natural resources field.

"Many of our members already have a presence in the state government, local government, [and] the press. Many of them are already recognized as experts," he said.

Green Fire intentionally planned its launch for Saturday, which is Earth Day.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - President Donald Trump will begin his Independence Day weekend on Friday with a patriotic display of fireworks at Mount Rushmore, an event expected to draw thousands where masks and social distancing aren't required as coronavirus cases spike across the country.

Trump is expected to speak at the event, which has issued 7,500 tickets to watch fireworks that he says will be a "display like few people have seen."

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RHINELANDER - The Pioneer Park Historical Complex is popular not only among tourists but also school field trips and Rhinelander natives.

The buildings give people an endless amount of historical background on the city and surrounding areas.

Like many city-owned places, the complex operates mainly on donations.

In the past the museum has had trouble accepting the donations of larger amounts and tax-deductible ones.

Until a recent partnership, the museum was unable to accept donations of large amounts and tax-deductible ones.

The new alliance with the Rhinelander Community Foundation led to the creation of a general fund.

Creators of the fund George and Sondra Juetten will match any donation up to $25,000 to the fund.

Museum director Kerry Bloedorn says the new partnership opens up more opportunities towards projects at the park.

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CRANDON - The Forest County Humane Society works around the clock to help animals find forever homes. But taking care of those animals during their stay doesn't just take a lot of time; it takes a lot of money, too.

The shelter got a helping hand, thanks to a $35,000 grant from the ASPCA. It's part of an initiative to help brick-and-mortar shelters improve their animals' quality of life.

Shelter director Angie Schaefer says that money paid for 20 new cat-condos, fencing for two new dog yards, and several other much-needed supplies.

"We're small, we're in a small community, so to raise that kind of money to get these items would have been quite a task. For them to step in and do that for us is amazing," said Schaefer.

Schaefer said the extra yards will allow dogs to spend more time outside and socialize with each other.

If you're interested in volunteering or donating to the humane society, visit its website for more information.

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MADISON, WI - Cigarette smoking rates have dropped since Wisconsin's Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law went into effect 10 years ago.

In 2008, before the law passed, 20% of Wisconsin adults smoked cigarettes. By 2018, the rate had dropped to 16%. High school youth cigarette smoking rates dropped from nearly 21% in 2008 to nearly 5% in 2018.

State cigarette taxes were also increased during this time period and contribute to this reduction.

"Wisconsin is breathing easier today thanks to this law, but we know there are many people in our state who still smoke," said DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm. "We urge smokers to take advantage of the programs available to help them to quit, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people who smoke are believed to be more susceptible to the virus, and can become severely ill with it."

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NORTHWOODS - Wisconsin's lakes have a lot to offer their visitors. But some, like aquatic invasive species, are unwelcome due to the damage they can cause to native ecosystems.

There's a growing effort to prevent, contain, and control the spread of these aquatic invasive species, especially this holiday weekend. As part of the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program, volunteers will be stationed across popular boat landings, doing inspections and educating boaters on how to properly clean their boats.

"Any type of holiday weekend, especially the fourth of July when there's a lot more boat traffic, there's an emphasis on getting more awareness out there," said DNR recreation warden Justin Bender.

Aside from volunteers, most boat landings also have information posted on aquatic invasive species and the laws regarding boat cleaning. Citations for not properly cleaning your boats typically run $200-300.

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RHINELANDER -
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The state Department of Health Services said Friday that the state has now seen 30,317 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March. That's up 579 cases from Thursday.

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